by Gavin Seim:
Day One: I’m going to get brutal with the reality of how the new LEAP Motion handled REAL WORK. If you want to save time here’s my initial impression.
LEAP does NOT leap out of the box and work well – Maybe that will change in time, but this feels like pre-beta and does not make my work easier.
I pre-ordered early and my LEAP finally came today after what must have been more than a year. It had been so long it was almost like magic just to hold the box. WOW, I thought. I can now control my computer just by waving my hands. Minority Report, here I come.. I’ve not actually seen that movie. Is it good?
Anyways that a little voice inside said “Gavin! Though shalt not count thy leaps before they hath jumped” But I still rushed to my studio to try it out. “The waiting will pay off” I thought.
Well, LEAP worked. Sort of. It reminds me of many an encounter with voice recognition software. It looks great in the promos. Then you use it.
I could talk like a hot shot and say how amazing it is and how high tech I am. Because the idea really is cool. But the reality seems to be that LEAP is mostly useless for me right now. The first thing I realized was how they made it look really pretty, but barely indicated what I needed to do actually use it in the real world. Perhaps that was because there was little practical use. The goofy games hold little interest for me. I want to get something done.
On my production studio desk nothing gets real estate that does not do it’s job. From my precision corded laser mouse to my Medium Wacom tablet. A device has to do something well, or it goes in a drawer.
Once I finally got calibration to work (not pretty on my Mac), I Installed Better Touch (an app that allows for custom commands). Sadly I could not even make it “practical” for the simplest of movements.
First Test: I started with a hand gesture for right and left arrow keys, thinking it might be useful for sorting images in Lightroom. Nope. Unless I held my fingers just right it did not even see the gesture. Trying to think about your hand, while also holding it in the air becomes very tiring VERY fast. It’s mentally and physically frustrating. In practice I ended up waving my hand slowly, then furiously over the device just to browse images with poor results. Not a good sign. Back to the keyboard.
Next Test: I wanted to control the mouse in hopes of using Leap’s touted precision to do things I do with my Wacom, or even basic Finder work without my mouse. Since Leap gave no indication during setup that this was even possible, it took a few minutes to realize that I needed a free app called Touchless. I installed that from Airspace (the app store for Leap) ran orientation and it started to look good. Reality soon set in.
Again I started simple, hoping to use Leap to control the mouse for simple but precise painting, burning and dodging in Photoshop. I got little functionality in Basic Mode so I switched to advanced and got a working curser where I could touch and engage the click – Sometimes. That was when it was not doing random zooming, window switching and the like. I even managed some basic painting and burning. But it was totally unreliable. Sometimes the click would engage and the tool would work, sometimes not. Sometimes it would change the window or do something else. Sound like something else? Here’s looking at you Voice Control.
I know it’s new and I will spend more time with it. But the truth is a great device usually works from the start. If they had simply given us solid reliable mouse/touch integration it would have been a GREAT start. But the reality is this is not even comparable to a mouse or a tablet in ANY practical sense. Since it lacks that, it’s little more than a gimmick with a few games and trinkets attached. So far.
After a year of waiting. Leap is essentially useless for me in any practical sense - I hope this changes, but if they could not give us BASIC functionality after all this time, I fear we’re in trouble.
I know I’m being harsh. But it’s the reality of it for today. I’m trying to be a beta tester. I paid for this. The potential seems real. But I waited, hoping they would get it right. They did not. This looks like another piece that will end up in the drawer. That said I will keep trying for awhile and see if it gets better. If I have a new revelation, I will update this article.